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What to Know About Legs-Up-the-Wall Yoga Pose

Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on November 11, 2021

Yoga is a mindful practice that helps you relieve stress and improve flexibility. Yoga can be as intense and involved or therapeutic and relaxing as you’d like. The Legs-Up-the-Wall pose, also known as viparita karani, inverts the body without straining the head or neck. This pose is excellent for reducing stress and anxiety, and it is easy for beginners.

What Are the Legs-Up-the-Wall Yoga Pose Benefits?

The Legs-Up-the-Wall pose has plenty of therapeutic benefits, from relieving stress to reducing headaches. To get the most from the pose, practice it once or twice a day. You can do the pose alone or use it in your regular yoga practice. 

The main benefits of the Legs-Up-the-Wall pose are: 

  • Deep relaxation
  • Stress relief
  • Knee pain reduction
  • Tension relief in the neck

This pose also: 

  • Alleviates tired legs
  • Calms your mind
  • Relieves leg and feet cramps
  • Helps with backaches
  • Softly opens the backs of your legs

Anxiety relief. Viparita karani is an easy inversion pose that’s quiet and calming. It helps your nervous system and doesn’t put a lot of pressure on your neck and head. The Legs-Up-the-Wall is a “non-doing” pose that’s all about relaxing your body and letting go of the tension you’ve been carrying. 

Improved circulation. Legs-Up-the-Wall is good for reducing leg swelling. When you stand or sit all day, your legs can swell because your body isn't circulating blood well. Holding your legs up in this position helps ease discomfort and keep your blood from pooling and staying in your legs. Practicing the pose reduces your risk for blood clots. 

Additional benefits. The overall benefits from the de-stressing effects of this pose can help you feel better. There are claims that viparita karani can help relieve headaches or reduce high blood pressure.

How Is the Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose Done?

Below you’ll find easy step-by-step directions to get into the viparita karani pose: 

  1. Sit on the floor with your feet on the ground and your left side against a flat wall. 
  2. Slowly lower your back to the floor and put your feet flat against the wall.
  3. Gently wiggle your body closer to the wall until your sit bones are against the wall and your legs are vertically above you with both legs above your hips. You can rest your head against the floor.
  4. Put your pelvis in a neutral position.
  5. Relax your face and neck and rest your hands on your belly or beside you on the floor.
  6. Relax all parts of your body while keeping your legs propped up against the wall.
  7. You can stay in the posture for 10 to 15 minutes or whatever’s comfortable for you.

You can modify this pose by putting a towel under your neck for extra support if your neck is sore. To get a deeper stretch, bend your knees against the wall and bring your feet together, making a "V" shape. 

If you're feeling pins and needles in your legs, bend your legs and hug your knees to your chest. Once the tingling stops, you can re-enter the pose. 

To come out of the viparita karani pose, pull your knees into your chest and roll to one side. Rest for a moment, then slowly sit up. Shake out your legs before standing to help balance your blood flow.

Who Shouldn’t Do Viparita Karani Pose?

Like any yoga pose, some risks come with the Legs-Up-the-Wall pose. You should avoid adding this pose to your yoga flow if you have the following:  

Glaucoma. The pressure shifts in this pose can cause fluid pressure in your eyes. This position puts an unnecessary strain on your eyes. Once out of the position, the pressure should return to normal after sitting up. 

Excessive fluid retention. If you have a condition that causes extra fluid in your body, avoid this pose. Or get permission from your doctor. The excess fluid in your body could go back down to your heart, putting strain on it. These conditions include: 

Unmanaged high blood pressure. This pose can increase your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you don’t want to put more strain on your body. You can practice this pose after talking with your doctor and stabilizing your blood pressure. 

Consult your doctor about doing the pose if you are pregnant or have: 

  • Heart problems
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Spinal disorders
  • Retinal detachment

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Amrit Yoga Institute: “3 Yoga Poses for Anxiety Relief.”

Australian School of Meditation & Yoga: “Legs up the Wall - Viparita Karani.”

Cleveland Clinic: “The Yoga Pose You Need: The Health Benefits of Legs Up the Wall.” 

The Art of Living: “Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani).”

The Yoga Institute: “Viparitakarani.”

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